The Times on Kindle: The Next Best Thing to Paper

Last month, Silicon Valley Insider’s Nicholas Carlson did some math and concluded that The New York Times would be better off if it stopped printing the paper and gave each subscriber an Kindle e-book reader and an electronic subscription.

You can get the Times online in at least four forms. Anyone can go to the regular Web site. Subscribers can get a daily e-mail summary of the paper in Adobe Acrobat form. The TimesReader is a nifty Windows application (a test version is available for Mac) that gives you the full daily paper p0lus some online-only content. It’s free to newspaper subscribers or you can subscribe to it alone for $14.95 a month. Then there’s the Kindle version of the full daily paper, also $14.95 a month, or 75 cents for a single paper.

I was recently on the road for a couple of days where I had no easy access to my morning paper Times so I gave the Kindle version a try. I wouldn’t trade it for the print paper. In some ways, TimesReader is better, at least on a big-screen display. But for a completely portable version of the paper that you can bring to the breakfast table without feeling like a complete geek, it’s a good solution.

The most disconcerting thing about reading a newspaper on the Kindle is the forced linearity. There’s no way on the small Kindle screen to recreate the smorgasbord of a newspaper page, something the TimesReader does fairly well on a big PC display. Still, the Times leverages the Kindle user interface about as well as it can. A table of contents let’s you choose from among the paper’s sections. Once you are in an article, flicking the five-way control to the left or right takes you to the next or [previous articles, giving you a way to scan the contents fairly quickly. Some, but not all, of the paper’s photos are included and the new Kindle’s 16-level grey scale does a reasonable job of reproducing them.

As a plus, it’s a lot easier to read the Times on a Kindle than as a broadsheet newspaper on a crowded subway train. On the minus side, the Kindle version lacks a crossword puzzle, unlike the PDF e-mail summary, where you can print the puzzle out, or TimesReader, which lets you do the puzzle onscreen.

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